Is It Legal To Track Someone Without Permission In New York?
Would you be alarmed to find out that you could be tracked, and there wouldn’t be much that the police could do?
It would be a scary thought, especially when you think about what happened to Jackie Wisniewski, an Erie County resident who discovered a GPS device on her car in 2012, placed there by an ex-boyfriend to keep tabs on her. When she reported it to the police upon removal of the tracker, she was told that there was nothing the authorities could do because it technically wasn’t a crime.
Jackie Wisniewski was later murdered by that ex-boyfriend.
That was 2012, but we’re almost in 2022, and now people are being tracked with AirTags.
AirTags are designed to help you find a missing item, but there are people who have started to use them to track individuals without them knowing.
Police reports have found this kind of tracking in Georgia, but nothing yet in Western New York; however, the existence of this threat is still very real, and it’s good to be aware of the signs that you’re being tracked and what you can do if it happens here.
What Happens When You Are Tracked Via An AirTag?
One woman who was being tracked via an Apple AirTag received a notification on her iPhone that an unknown accessory was traveling with her. Another woman, former Buffalo TV reporter Madison Carter, received a notification after stopping at a gas station, which said, “Unknown Accessory Detected Near You.”
Carter couldn’t find the tracker when she searched her car, but there is an option to disable the tracker from your phone.
After notifying the local authorities in Georgia where the first few instances of tracking have occurred, and while police have tried to help however they can, the technology is so new that the authorities are generally unsure how to handle the new development.
Luckily, there is something that can be done in Western New York should you find that you are being tracked.
What Can Be Done in Western New York?
If you notice you are being tracked, you should contact the police. While the technology may be new and unfamiliar to most, there is at least a law that prevents this kind of tracking in Western New York and throughout New York state.
Thanks to the efforts from the Wisniewski family after Jackie’s heartbreaking murder, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Jackie’s Law into effect in 2014. In the law, it added the use of GPS devices to track another person onto the list of actions considered as fourth-degree stalking. This qualifies as a misdemeanor with penalties up to three months in jail and $500 in fines.
However, placing a tracking device is still legal in New York. After you find a tracking device on your vehicle, you must make it clear that the actions are not approved, and then you must come forward to prove that the stalker continued to use the tracking device, despite never receiving the permission to do so.
Always be on your toes, and stay safe, WNY.